False or fraudulent claims in the healthcare industry deprive all citizens. When government money is wasted on fraud, there is less to spend on providing legitimate care, and cost is borne by all taxpayers. The False Claims Act is designed to help prevent this type of fraud. Under the False Claims Act, it is illegal for medical providers to lie about billing or to submit falsified or false bills and claims. In addition, the False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing on the part of medical providers when fraud does occur. Under the act, whistleblowers can file a lawsuit on behalf of the government and may even be able to secure part of the recovery.
Patient Safety Issues
However, the False Claims Act is not just about protecting taxpayer dollars, it is also critically important for patient safety. The False Claims Act can be used to stop healthcare providers from:
- Unnecessarily admitting patients into the hospitals, exposing them to risks of errors and infection
- Performing unnecessary surgeries or procedures for profit
- Over-documenting patient medical records to support a higher bill, creating misleading medical records that can affect decision-making during subsequent visits
- Providing inferior medical equipment or drugs
- Performing medically unnecessary tests and procedures, exposing patients to needle sticks and radiation
A Case of Contaminated Syringes
One example of the dangers to patient safety related to violations of the False Claims Act is the recent settlement reached in the B. Braun Medical Inc. case. In May 2016, B. Braun Medical Inc., a company offering medicine and medical devices, reached an agreement to pay up to $7.8 million in forfeitures and penalties after allegedly selling contaminated pre-filled saline flush syringes resulting in several cases of infection. The syringes were sold in 2007 and, according to the lawsuit, B. Braun was aware its manufacturer had problems that could affect the quality of the syringes.
Are You Aware of Fraud Taking Place Right Now?
If you are aware of a medical provider or other company trying to defraud the government or programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, it’s not just a financial issue. It’s an issue that could affect the health and safety of many patients. If you have information and are ready to come forward, the legal team at Goldberg Kohn is here to help. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.